So you’re heading out on your big trip and are concerned about theft? In this post, you’ll learn about the best anti-theft backpacks and locks that’ll reduce the odds of losing your gear to a pickpocket. We cover all the features, including slash proof, RFID, zipperless, hidden compartments and more.
21 Best Anti-Theft Backpacks and Locks
Traveling means that you’re going to be in unfamiliar places. And your risk of getting pickpocketed is greater in tourist locations than anywhere else.
We’ve been robbed three times abroad: pickpocketed on the street, at night while we slept, and in a violent confrontation on the street.
And although we were living in the city where this happened, two of these instances could have happened to any tourist passing through. There is no way to completely protect yourself from theft.
And even if you have cat-like reflexes and eyes in the back of your head you can become a victim of theft. And while some travelers claim to prefer the idea of confrontation and arming themselves, cooler heads usually prevail and most people aren’t actually willing to die to protect their cell phone.
If you’re going to relax on your next trip, it’s worth taking a few precautions to reduce your exposure to pickpockets and opportunistic theft.
You might be thinking that slash-proof, zipper-less, secret compartments and pockets seem like a bit of ‘overkill’, but imagine this scenario:
You are out exploring a busy, crowded market one day and without even realizing it, someone you thought ‘bumped’ into you had in fact slashed your bag, slipped a hand inside and grabbed your wallet. There goes your cards and all of your cash so you are now stuck in a foreign country with no access to your money. Your great holiday has just turned into a nightmare.
In this (now removed) video, American expat Brad Scott films a group of pickpockets steal his cellphone while visiting Latacunga.
Unfortunately, these things happen sometimes, and in all countries. We’re not saying they will happen, but it is better to be prepared.
In this post, we’re going to delve into the world of secret compartments, slash proof backpacks, RFID protection and much more so that you and all of your belongings are safe from every form of theft – electronic, pickpocket or sticky fingers while in transit.
We put together this guide to explain all the gadgets, bells and whistles that will help you decide on a great travel anti-theft backpack.
This guide is pretty big so we’ve broken it up into these 4 main sections:
- Buyers Guide Section: anti-theft features to consider
- Anti-theft Backpacks – the top 6 models, plus wallets, purses and other accessories
- 8 Anti theft FAQ – about slash proof bags, RFID, hidden compartments and more
- 11 Travel Safety Tips: How to not get robbed
If you don’t want to read the full article and just want the best anti theft backpack, here it is:
Top Pick: The Best Anti-Theft Backpack for Travel
Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350: This anti theft backpack has all the features: slash proof fabric and straps, built in lock, security zipper with hooks, water resistant, and RFID pocket.
Plus, it has space for a 13″ Notebook or iPad, large camera, headphones, sweater and more. It comes in 4 colors (black, blue, khaki, and sandstone) and has padded straps and back for comfort.
If you want a tough, functional bag to keep your stuff safe so you can focus on your trip, this bag is a solid option.
Looking for more options? See more below.
Some of these packs and locks will make you feel like James Bond – with all those extra features and tech hidden within, so let’s begin.
Buyers Guide Section
Anti theft bags now have security features like RFID protection that prevents electronic identity theft, strengthened slash proof fabrics and secret compartments. Their common goal is to prevent theft with a fairly forgettable design.
Here’s what to look at before you buy:
11 Anti-theft Backpack Features to Consider
- Comfort: Hauling all of your valuables around every day means you want something comfortable so you don’t end up with an aching back and shoulders. We recommend ordering it ahead of time and wearing it for a day or two before you leave so you can adjust straps and get familiar with all of the pockets, zips and hidden compartments for ease of use. And this way you’ll know where everything is while going through customs at the airport.
- RFID protection: Shielding your passport, credit cards and drivers licenses from electronic skimming and identity theft, RFID blocks any scanning devices near you stopping them from reading the chips and gaining access to all of your details. This is a very popular technique used by thieves anywhere where the concentration of tourists is high. ATM machines, airports, hotel zones, bars and even restaurants. Electronic skimming is no joke and RFID protection is highly recommended.
- Slash proof fabric: One of the quickest and easiest ways to rob you is to quickly slash your bag open with box cutters or a small sharp knife and grab what’s inside. You barely feel it and it only takes a moment. Slash proof fabric prevents this, keeping your valuables safe especially in crowds where people bump into you all the time. Fabric is made slash proof by adding a steel mesh, preventing a knife from creating a sizeable opening.
- Zipper less: A security measure at a glance. If they can’t see how to break in they are more likely to move on to someone else. It’s true.
- Weight: You’ll be carrying it all day; every day – so think about how much stuff you are likely to take with you on a daily basis. Lighter is better.
- Design: Rigid or soft material, internal rather than external pockets/secret compartments are all good factors to think about. If it is rigid material then people cannot see how much you have in your bag, plus it stops your stuff from getting squished. Internal pockets keep valuables like phones and cameras protected because they don’t roll around or run the risk of damage from getting things thrown on top of them. Secret compartments help keep passports, wedding rings, extra cash etc. from being seen by prying eyes around you. If someone looks in when you open your bag and only sees a beach towel then they aren’t as interested. Plus, with compartments and pockets for everything – your life becomes easier with everything at your fingertips.
- Capacity: Think about your trip, realistically. Each day, how much will you need to take with you? Bigger is not always better, can be heavy and also get very uncomfortable which puts a bit of a damper on things because you are sore from lugging a big pack around. Compact, lightweight and easy to use is what you are after.
- Appearance: Standard two strap, diagonal across the body, messenger style… luckily nowadays they make anti-theft backpacks in all shapes, sizes, designs and colors so this one is purely personal taste and what you prefer because the choices are there.
- Strap comfort: Wide straps will spread the weight on your shoulders and stop them from cutting into you. Evenly dispersed weight whether it be through wide straps or across the body will help prevent sore back and shoulders by the end of the day.
- Function: Your most commonly carried items will make a difference. Yes, it’s for travel, but is it going to have a lot of camera gear in it, or are you taking a laptop with you on your trip and need a safe compartment? The main function of the pack will help you choose design and size.
- Cost: You don’t have to pay a fortune for a good anti-theft backpack. You can pick one up that meets all of these criteria in all price ranges.
6 Best Anti-theft Backpacks
1. Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Anti-Theft 15L Backpack
Slash proof, water resistant, RFID protection and security lockdown points make this bag hard to beat. Extremely lightweight at 1.58 lbs., it’s roomy enough to fit everything you need including a padded 13-inch MacBook sleeve.
There are several layers of exterior protection with security clips anchoring the smart zippers. It comes in a range of colors so you don’t get it confused with every other black backpack
The 7 interior plus 3 exterior pockets enable all of your belongings to be carried without damage. This one ticks all the boxes.
2. XDDesign Bobby Original Anti-Theft Backpack
Hidden zippers, secret compartments and made from cut proof multi-layered material this pack is very anti-theft. It’s weight balance lifts pressure off your spine for ultimate comfort while the water-repellent fabric keeps your valuables safe.
Compatible with all laptops up to 15’ and all tablets up to 10’, it can open to 30, 90 or lay flat at 180 degrees for ease of packing. There is also a USB port built in to keep your phone charged.
3. Neatpak Canvas Sling Bag
Anti-theft RFID is built in for document protection, and there is even a special pocket on the strap for easy access to your cell phone and music with a hole for your headphones to go through.
It’s water resistant, adjustable and has built in safety reflective stripes. It also comes with a lifetime guarantee.
4. Oscaurt– Anti-Theft Travel Backpack
Zipperless with hidden pockets and built in reflective strips this pack keeps you safe day and night. Able to open out flat to 180 it’s easy to pack everything you need with loads of pockets and USB charging port outside.
Room for your laptop in its own padded sleeve, and enough space for those little souvenirs you’ll want to buy.
5. Loctote Flak Sack
The Flak Sack is listed as the “The Original Theft Resistant Drawstring Backpack”
Extremely adaptable, tie it or attach it to anything, lock and walk away confident that thieves won’t cut through the steel reinforced straps and it will be there when you get back. It’s like a portable safe and treated with an industrial grade water repellent coating for an added layer of protection. Easily worn front or back, its sternum strap is adjustable for added comfort.
6. Kopack Tear and Water-Resistant Travel Pack
With loads of pockets and compartments so all of your gear will be safely secured its ergonomic design makes a comfortable fit for all day wear. Sturdily constructed, it’s got reinforced stitching, heavy duty buckles, lockable zippers and adjustable everything.
3 Best Anti-theft Wallets
1. Leopardd Men’s Wallet
Durable, it will protect you from electronic pickpockets for years to come.
2. Zoppen RFID Travel Passport Wallet
Room for all of your cards, cash, passport and even your phone, this wallet comes in just about any color you could want and is big enough to conveniently hold all of your travel necessities in one place.
RFID blocking keeps all of your documents safe from any form of identity or electronic theft and it even has a pen holder so you don’t get stuck when you need to fill out your immigration forms on the plane.
3. Lewis. N. Clark RFID Neck Stash Hidden Wallet
Quick dry, its moisture wicking odor resistant fabric also withstands mildew and shrinking from moisture even when travelling through hot countries. Hanging around your neck adds another layer of protection as you can’t accidentally leave it behind anywhere.
2 Best Travel Locks
1. Forge Cable Luggage Locks
Braided and sheathed steel cables give this lock added flexibility to fit any style of luggage while quality materials and componentry are so tough it comes with a lifetime guarantee and meets TSA regulations.
It also comes with an added layer of protection in that the TSA agent has to re-lock your bag to get their key back.
2. Forge Travel Luggage Locks
Tough lock bodies of special alloy and hardened steel shackles, this lock is built to withstand the pounding your luggage sometimes takes. Complete with open alert, a red tag pops up if your bag has been inspected.
Secured with your own individual 3-digit combination they back up their ‘unbreakable’ lifetime guarantee by replacing any lock that gets broken. Meets TSA regulations
2 Best Anti-theft Travel Purses
1. Travelon Anti-theft Classic Mini Shoulder Bag
Chic, elegant and available in a range of colors, patterns and prints, this anti-theft purse is slash proof, RFID protected and has lockdown zip shackles to stop thieves from unzipping your bag in a crowd.
The adjustable straps are also slash proof and long enough for you to wear it over the shoulder or across the body for added comfort.
2. Baggalini Pocket Crossbody with RFID
Your credit cards are safe with slots built in and it also comes with a removable wrist wallet. There’s a hidden pocket on the back thieves won’t know is there.
5 Other Anti-theft Products
1. Master Lock 265D Door Security Bar
The 20-gauge steel stopper has a strong pivoting ball joint on the bottom enabling maximum traction and contact with the floor so it can’t be budged by would be thieves and also protects the floor from scratching.
Great for travel, just slip down the side of your suitcase and sleep easy every night you are away.
2. Addalock by Rishon Enterprises Inc
At only 4 ounces, it’s great for travel anywhere in the world and packs up in a little red bag so you can find it easily in your luggage.
3. Sabre Wedge Door Stop Security Alarm
Perfect for travel, just slip this under your door and you’re good to go. If a thief tries to break in, when door pressure is detected by the door stop a powerful alarm sounds waking you and drawing attention.
A battery indicator lets you know when you are getting low and it’s time to change the battery. Just install, press the button and sleep well.
4. Alpha Keeper RFID Money Belt for Travel
Perfect for travel, it’s virtually undetectable by thieves it’s roomy enough to easily hold your passport, money, boarding passes, credit cards, ID and phone so everything is right at your fingertips.
With a 100% money back guarantee it also comes with an additional 7 RFID blocking sleeves for added protection.
5. Zero Grid Travel Security Belt
Airport friendly, adjustable, comfortable and wider zippered pocket means even in the event you are mugged, you will still have enough money to make sure you get home safe.
Don’t forget to weigh your luggage before heading to the airport. You’ll hit your max weight faster than you might think. Here’s our guide to choosing the best luggage scale for travel.
8 Anti-Theft FAQ
1. Why do I need a slash proof bag?
In some Central and South American countries, pickpockets wander through crowds discretely slashing bags then slipping a hand in to steal your wallet.
You may think… ‘oh, I’d feel that for sure’ but with all of the people bumping into you in a closely packed crowd, after a while it is easy not to notice. That is why a slash proof fabric is suggested.
2. What makes a backpack anti-theft?
There are different things which are considered theft.
Electronic theft happens when they scan your credit cards, passport and licenses – this leads to identity theft. Then there is actual physical theft and lastly, there is theft in transit where you may leave your bag unattended while travelling if even just for two minutes while you run to the bathroom at a bus stop etc.
Anti-theft bags have security features inbuilt to prevent one or all of these types of theft.
- First electronic – RFID protection will stop people scanning your bag to steal your identity and gain access to your personal and banking details.
- Second – anti-slash will stop physical theft from thieves slashing your bag and taking your valuables.
3. What is RFID protection?
RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) is a form of wireless identity theft. This electronic pickpocketing is where they scan your cards, passport and driver’s license to gain all of your information as they stand next to you.
Card skimming only works if your credit cards and license have chips. It is a form of identity theft and you will never even know you’ve been hit until the charges come rolling in.
4. Is RFID Protection Necessary?
Watch on YouTube
5. How are straps anti-theft?
Some backpacks come with stainless steel woven into the straps. While the straps retain their flexibility and comfort it makes them very hard to cut through even with wire cutters.
6. Which is better: locking or hidden zippers?
Honestly, both are good.
Hidden zippers may deter pickpockets at a glance as they cannot see a way to get in quickly without too much jostling of the bag. Whereas a lock guarantees they won’t be getting in, but can also be a hassle having to unlock and relock your bag every time you want to get something, especially if you’re on a shopping spree.
7. Hidden compartments – yes or no?
Umm absolutely! Even if you don’t have anything to put in there, they’re cool. No seriously, it is a good idea to have a secret compartment to slip wedding rings and passports into.
Say you’re headed into the glorious warm Caribbean waters for a snorkel off some remote Caye and have to leave your backpack on the beach. Then, heaven forbid, if you don’t have a lock and someone does go through your bag, then you stand a chance of your valuables being there when you get back.
8. Should I have water resistance?
Yes. When travelling you are more likely to be carrying valuables like your passport, wallet, larger sums of cash etc. on a daily basis. Boat rides, afternoon rainstorms and being around water is more common on holiday.
11 Travel Safety Tips: How Not to Get Robbed
This is a minefield of a topic but bear with us, there are certain things you can do when traveling to reduce the likelihood of getting robbed.
Thieves are in every country, there is no escaping that, but you always hear horror stories of people getting robbed so what can you do to prevent it?
1. Wear your backpack on front and don’t look like a tourist
Wearing your bag in front, especially in tight spaces like packed markets or when in closely-knit street crowds during a parade makes it a lot harder for pickpockets to slash your bag, slip a hand inside or open your bag without being detected.
If you have an expensive camera, keep it tucked away while walking around. Don’t stick out like an obvious tourist and you won’t be a target.
2. Festivals, Celebrations, Parades -Keep an Eye Out
Public holidays that draw big crowds like festivals, marches, processions and parades are a pickpocket’s paradise.
For example: Easter in Guatemala, pickpockets and thieves will come from Honduras and Nicaragua to prey on the crowds gathered to see the processions that Guatemala is famous for. Be vigilant.
When heading out to enjoy a festival or parade, leave as much behind locked in your accommodation as possible and ladies, tuck your money into your bra. It’s old school yes, but I’m sure you’ll notice if a pickpocket tries to steal it.
3. Have good situational awareness
If you have your head up looking around, it makes you less of a target because you are alert and have more chance of seeing a thief near you.
Touching your bag or trying the dodgy ‘rub past’ is less likely to happen when you are looking around and not distracted.
Also, walking on the side of the street with oncoming traffic stops thieves on mopeds or bikes from doing a snatch and grab on the way past ripping off shoulder bags or cameras.
4. Cash, Money, Dinero, Cashola… don’t flash it around.
Don’t flash big sums of money when visiting the ATM or large notes when shopping.
If you open your wallet with big wads of cash in it, everyone around you will notice. If you are visiting a local market or going shopping, just take small bills with you so locals can break them and give you change.
Don’t go to Ecuador’s largest market, Otavalo, or Guatemala’s famous ‘Chichi market’ and expect the stall holders to break a $100 USD bill. It is unrealistic, they will never have the change, and just makes you a target.
5. Don’t assume it’s safe on the bus
Don’t assume it is safe on the bus. The bus drivers often get off as well so your bag is left unattended and a prime target for anyone who walks on.
If you are on a tour, transport or public bus, no matter how nice or new it is, when it stops for the first time in a few hours, don’t leave you bag unattended on the bus as you jump off to go flying to the bathroom because you’ve been doing the ‘I gotta wee’ dance for the last half hour. Take it with you!
6. Dark, deserted or desolate … don’t do it!
It’s as simple as that. If it’s a dark alleyway, or a deserted dimly lit side street, well, don’t go down there. Like in the horror movies, unless you want something bad to happen when you are all alone in some dimly lit place, just don’t do it.
Take the longer walk home, walk down more popular and populated streets, grab a taxi, tuk-tuk or donkey if you have to, just don’t go down the dark deserted alley, laneway or road.
7. Keep Several Stashes of money
Keeping some money locked up in your hotel room safe, some on your person in a hidden money belt and only a little in your wallet means that if you are unlucky enough to come across thieves, muggers or robbers, they won’t get all of your money.
You will have some hidden on you and be able to get back to where you are staying. Plus, you are less likely to get hurt if you hand over a wallet, even if only has $10 in it.
8. Safety in Numbers
We all know this saying, and it has been passed down through the generations for a reason. It’s true.
Whether you are hunting a dinosaur or walking the streets at night going back to your hotel, then it applies. It is safer if you have other people around.
Attacks are less likely to happen in groups, but if you are a solo traveler, then think about forking out a little money for a taxi rather than walking through unfamiliar areas. If you get robbed walking home, they’ll take more than your taxi fare.
9. Be Wary of Very Friendly People Wanting to Touch You
Thieves are sneaky. They have concocted all sorts of ways to touch you so they can take things.
Squirting fake bird poo and appearing very quickly to wipe it off, acting like a beggar and grabbing you pleading for money.
Anything that involves them grabbing you or giving them an excuse to touch you means they can snag watches, jewelry and while you are distracted offer to hold your camera then run off with it.
Just be wary of people getting very close and grabbing you in any way.
10. Carry a Decoy
If you are traveling in an area or country with a higher crime rate carrying a cheap decoy wallet with some expired cards and small amount of cash in it is a good idea.
That way if you find yourself face to face with a thief, you can easily hand it over without losing too much. Plus, you stand a better chance of walking away unscathed because they won’t feel like they have to try and take it from you. They have what they want. Let the robbers discover their loss later when you are safely back in your accommodation.
11. Dress Down
If you are walking around covered in gold chains, rings and dripping jewels then chances are people will notice and think you’ve got money. This makes you more of a target.
Leave your expensive jewelry at home and just wear the basics while travelling. Of course, still wear your jewelry but just think about slipping in some plain earrings and leave the diamond studs at home.
Have a tip to share about staying safe and avoiding theft? What gear or pack do you use to avoid problems while traveling? Let me know below!